Every now and again I’ll see someone saying that they wish they could colour like someone else. There were even a couple of people said similar things to me in the comments on my Daily Marker blog hop post the other day. I’ve said it myself enough times; looked at other people’s art and despaired at ever being that good.
To the people who wish they could create something like my rainbow hair card: if you can colour at all, you can, with a bit of practise, colour like that. I started making cards less than three years ago and I made my first card with Copics just over two years ago. I am not an artist, other than some computer-based bits I hadn’t done much of anything creative since I was at school (which was quite a while ago), and I most definitely have not been practising every night.
This post is my advice for anyone who wants to improve their colouring.
The basics – essential
First off: learn the basics. For Copics, learn how to blend colours. For pencils, get the hang of laying the colour down lightly. Other mediums — watercolour, pastels, inks, whatever — will all have their own core skill that makes everything else easier. Watch Youtube videos. Take an online class. Take a real world class if there are any near you and that’s your preferred way of learning. Then practise a bit. I hate “wasting” supplies so I always try to work on images that I can use later if I like the way they turn out. Enjoy the process.
Classes – optional
Someone asked if I had taken any classes. I have done a couple of Copic classes: I got about half way through Online Card Classes Copic Markers for Card Makers before getting distracted (though I do intend to go back and finish it at some point) and I completed Sandy Allnock’s Copic Jumpstart class. Both are suitable for beginners, but intermediate colourists will doubtless learn things from both too. Both classes are self-paced. If I had to recommend just one of them, I’d suggest the Online Card Classes one, because you get to see how different people (including Sandy) colour with Copics. Sandy’s class does cover the basics, but teaches them along with a lot more colour theory.
You will almost certainly learn something new, but you don’t have to take classes.
When you’re happy with the basics, my only advice would be this:
Once you are comfortable with a technique or a style, once you stop having to think hard about each marker stroke or colour choice, then do something different.
- Try colouring people, animals, imaginary creatures, flowers, landscapes, abstract patterns, fabric, metal. Don’t just stick with one subject.
- Try a different style of image. Digi stamps are a wonderful (and pretty cheap) choice for experimenting.
- Try new colour combinations. If you normally use strong colours, try black and white, or pastels.
- Try combining mediums.
- Try taking part in challenges and interpret the challenge prompt in a way that takes you out of your comfort zone.
That is how I have got to the point where I can colour that rainbow hair. The first time I started to be at all happy with colouring hair was in July this year, less than four months ago. During the last Daily Marker challenge I coloured a spiky-haired girl and I liked how half of her hair turned out. Then I discovered The East Wind digi stamps — nothing like I’d ever done before — signed up for the monthly newsletter, which comes with a free image, and started doing their challenges… I did something different and it made a difference.
I really hope this is helpful to someone. If nothing else, I’d like to reassure people that you don’t need to spend hour after hour slogging away at tedious blending exercises. With the exception of a very small number of things that ended up in the bin and a few practise sheets for classes, you can see pretty much everything I have coloured either here on the blog or on my Instagram.
I am not an expert; there are still times when I sit there looking at other people’s art and colouring and despair at ever being that good… And don’t get me started on people who can draw!